On Loaning Money

Now that new friends are easy to find with Facebook, it is important to discern the harmonious relationships in our lives. It is unrealistic to think that we can be intimate and vulnerable with 2000+ people, and we need to choose wisely.

Every tax season I have the same discussion with my financial advisors about three loans that I made to friends in the past seven years. The third was repaid after a call on the past due date with an apology that it had slipped her mind, but the other two have lingered on years past the due dates with multiple attempts to offer a modified payment plan from the original terms. My financial advisors have suggested that I pursue legal means to recoup these sizeable amounts, but I read with interest these verses from Sirach, a book of the apocrypha, written between the Old and New Testament:

Sirach 29:1-9:

The merciful lend to their neighbors; by holding out a helping hand they keep the commandments.
Lend to your neighbor in his time of need; repay your neighbor when a loan falls due.
Keep your promise and be honest with him, and on every occasion you will find what you need.
Many regard a loan as a windfall, and cause trouble to those who help them.
One kisses another’s hands until he gets a loan, and is deferential in speaking of his neighbor’s money; but at the time for repayment he delays, and pays back with empty promises, and finds fault with the time.
If he can pay, his creditor will hardly get back half, and will regard that as a windfall.
If he cannot pay, the borrower has robbed the other of his money, and he has needlessly made him an enemy; he will repay him with curses and reproaches, and instead of glory will repay him with dishonor.
Many refuse to lend, not because of meanness, but from fear of being defrauded needlessly.
Nevertheless, be patient with someone in humble circumstances, and do not keep him waiting for your alms.
Help the poor for the commandment’s sake, and in their need do not send them away empty-handed.

There is wisdom in these words as I lent in time of need, when their children needed tuition for private schools and money for expensive weddings, and both were entering into divorces. But I still feel that I have been “robbed of my money” and they have “needlessly made an enemy”, regarding the “loan as a windfall.” It is curious that both of them have moved and chosen to “unfriend” me on Facebook, probably not wanting me to see that they are spending their money on tennis club memberships, more weddings, and expensive vacations.

Two less “friends” in the Facebook world?  I return to Sirach 9:1:

The merciful lend to their neighbors; by holding out a helping hand they keep the commandments.

I have chosen to keep the commandments regardless the cost.

Blessings, my friends,